07-Feb-2012

Growth? What Growth?


If food, primary education and primary healthcare are the issues which go unanswered, what ‘growth’ are we talking about?
For the past several years Indian economy has been growing at about 8.5 per cent. Even the current projected rate of growth for 2012, despite global recessionary trends, has been put at over 7 per cent. Businessmen and elite have flourished. More businesses have blossomed and more opportunities have opened up for the elite. Frankly, even for several of the working ‘middle’ class population, the last decade and a half -- post-liberalisation -- has been economically beneficial. For all those of us who are on this gravy train, it has been good enough to put us in a slumber and therefore not see the ominous signs. Has it been good for those of our citizens who are at the lower end of the economic spectrum? Has the so-called growth touched the poor? The answer is a clear ‘no’. 
More than a quarter of the entire world’s hungry people are in India. We have 230 million hungry people. 2011 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report places India at a high 15th rank in ‘hunger’. It is also significant to note that between years 1996 and 2011, the hunger index actually went up for only India, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. So, the ‘hunger’ has increased over the last 15 years – years which have seen rapid economic ‘growth’. The World Bank estimates that the percentage of underweight children in sub-Saharan Africa is 24 per cent, while India has almost twice the amount at 47 per cent. About 72 per cent of our infants are anaemic. While this news should really be alarming, we seem to be gloating over our economic marvel. 

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